A teacher from Ohio quit to work at a Walmart, where he makes over $20,000 more a year. In his viral TikTok video, wrote: “Leaving teaching after 6 years to go be a manager at Walmart and make more not using my degree.”
In the comments section, he explains that he “loved teaching” but left the job because of the wages. He claimed to have made $43,000 a year as a teacher but $65,000 to $70,000 as a Walmart Coach, according to his bonuses. But as a Walmart manager, he could earn over $100,000. 
“Overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated”
While he left teaching because of money, there were other factors involved. For instance, he works 45 hours a week at Walmart, considerably less than the hours he put in during his six years as a teacher who taught first grade and second grade, coached track and football, and taught in summer school.
Some comments noted Gabriel would be giving up weekends and evenings off to work retail but Gabriel said that free time doesn’t always exist for teachers. “I don’t know if you know about those long teacher hours of lesson planning, grading, report cards, after-school events…if you’re a coach it’s even worse,” he said in a follow-up video. “I remember weeks where I probably put in 60 hours.”
Recently, teachers have become increasingly vocal about dissatisfaction with their jobs. According to a 2022 survey by Merrimack College, teacher “satisfaction rates appear to have hit an all-time low.” The survey included 1,324 teachers in the U.S. In general, they feel “overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated.” Only 12% reported feeling very satisfied with their jobs while over four in ten said they were leaving their position — or likely to — in the next two years. 
The average salary for teachers in the school year 2021–2022 is $66,397, a 1.7 percent increase from the previous year. However, when adjusted for inflation, they make $2,179 less than teachers a decade ago. Keep in mind, the average salary of a job that requires a U.S. college degree is $92,175. Overall, teachers make 2% to 32.7% percent less than other workers with degrees, the numbers varying depending on the state. 
Gabriel isn’t the only one leaving the education field. Comments on his video reveal similar stories. “I was going to school to be a teacher, been at Walmart 5 years and make more than I would with some degrees.”
Another comment said, “I did the same. I love teaching and miss my students but left to be [an operations] manager for more than double my teaching pay.“
Read: The reason one teacher has kept an empty chair in his classroom for 50 years
How many hours do teachers work in a week?
Shannon McLoud, an English teacher, calculated all of her working hours to show the extent of her workload. While most teachers sign contracts to work 180 days a year, it’s not quite the part-time, summer-off job people think it is. She, like most teachers, is in the classroom six hours a day. Then there are the hours spent on preparing the classroom, gathering lesson materials, and after-school meetings and student clubs. After that is the hours of grading tests and homework at home, taking free time away from the teachers’ families and hobbies. Then there’s the lesson planning, which McLoud often does on Sunday. As far as summers off, many teachers use the time for PD opportunities, special training, or even teaching summer school. And throughout the summer, weekend, and weekends, comes communicating with students and parents outside of the classroom.
Overall, McLoud calculated the average teacher works 2,200 hours a year, or 42 hours a week for every week of the year. (Recall that Gabriel as a teacher worked 60 hours a week on occasion.) This is more hours than most full-time employees. Admittedly, many other full-time employees work overtime. But remember teacher contracts are for 39 weeks or about 180 days. As McLoud summarized: “We’re working full-time jobs while getting part-time pay.” 
Working at Walmart might be more profitable after all
However, working hours differ depending on the teacher. Nevertheless, many are still not earning enough, which is why teachers often have to take a second job outside of education. In a 2021 U.S. survey of 1,200 teachers, 82% said: “they either currently or previously had taken on multiple jobs to make ends meet.” Plus, 53% were currently working multiple jobs.
“It’s really kind of disheartening when you think that many teachers not only have bachelor’s degrees but master’s degrees and still have to hustle for their income,” said Donna M. Davis, an education historian and professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “The system is clearly broken when we have highly qualified professionals needing to supplement their income to survive, who are one catastrophe — one paycheck — away from complete ruin.” 
So it’s not surprising why more and more teachers are quitting to pursue better-paying jobs. As unbelievable as it sounds, despite all of their degrees and further education, working at Walmart might be the more economical decision for teachers like Gabriel.
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1. “Teacher Turned Walmart Worker Says He Earns $20K More ‘Not Using Degree’.” News Week. Shira Li Bartov. July 19, 2022
2. “A Profession in Crisis: Findings From a National Teacher Survey.” Ed Week Research Center. Holly Kurtz. April 14, 2022
3. “Man Quits Teaching Job to Work At Walmart Where He Claims He Can More Than Double His Salary.” Entrepreneur. Emily Rella. July 20, 2022
4. “I Get Paid for 180 Days of Work Each Year, but I Actually Work More Than 250.” We are Teachers. Shannon McLoud. June 10, 2019
5. “Teachers often work a second job outside of the classroom.” Ed Source. Karen D’Souza. April 6, 2022